ANAHEIM -- Surrounded by baserunners Monday, Rangers left-hander Mike Minor reached a crossroads that threatened to change the direction of his impressive second half.Instead, Minor escaped a bases-loaded jam in the fourth inning and pitched the Rangers to yet another one of his post All-Star break victories, this one 5-2
ANAHEIM -- Surrounded by baserunners Monday, Rangers left-hander Mike Minor reached a crossroads that threatened to change the direction of his impressive second half.
Instead, Minor escaped a bases-loaded jam in the fourth inning and pitched the Rangers to yet another one of his post All-Star break victories, this one 5-2 over the Angels.
Minor improved to 6-1 with a 2.70 ERA in the second half, winning for the sixth time in his last seven starts, while holding an opponent to two runs or fewer over four consecutive outings. It is a far cry from the pitcher who carried a 5.76 ERA into June and was a nondescript 7-6 as recently as the last week of July.
"I think it has been more so getting out there every six days or whatever it is and getting some innings under my belt," said Minor, who made 65 appearances as a reliever last year, throwing 77 2/3 innings for the Royals.
At 12-7 overall, Minor has moved one victory from his career-best total in 2013 with the Braves, a season in which he appeared to have everything pointed in the right direction.
Minor had a 3.21 ERA that year and reached 200 innings for the first time in his big league career. Then came shoulder soreness in 2014 followed by labrum surgery that cost him all of 2015. Those 204 2/3 innings remain the only time he has reached the 150 mark.
Another 200-inning season won't happen this year, not with a plan to keep pitch counts in check, but Minor's six on Monday give him 146 in 2018, and the last two months have stirred plenty of reminders of 2013.
"He has the stuff to do it, but it's pretty special to watch a guy that can get through the challenges he's been through, get back on a Major League diamond, in a starter's role, where I know he really likes to be.," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "Even tonight, it wasn't necessarily his best stuff. He probably wasn't comfortable all night, but he was able to grind through it."
Monday's fourth inning did not begin triumphantly. A double by American League Player of the Week Shohei Ohtani was followed by a one-out walk to Taylor Ward and an RBI single from Jose Fernandez. A two-out walk to Kole Calhoun loaded the bases.
Minor then got David Fletcher to fly out to center field, ending the threat. He followed that with a 13-pitch fifth inning and an 11-pitch sixth. He threw 88 pitches on the night.
"I wouldn't say I knew it, but in the bullpen it wasn't great; the same as last week," Minor said. "You hope it will be different when you step out there, but tonight it wasn't. I was fighting all night trying to figure out mechanically what was right, what's wrong."
Angels starter Jaime Barria was not able to get out of his second-inning jam as unscathed. Joey Gallo hit a two-run double, and two batters later, Ronald Guzman delivered a two-run home run to deep center field, his 15th.
Gallo added an RBI single in the eighth inning after entering with just four hits in his previous nine games.
"I just want to finish strong," Gallo said. "Individually, I want to continue to play well through the end of the season and as a team, just show some fight."
The Angels inched closer in the seventh inning on an RBI single by Ohtani off left-hander Alex Claudio to make it 4-2. Right-hander Jose Leclerc ultimately sealed the victory with a scoreless ninth inning for his 10th save.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Known for causing the Angels problems with his bat, Adrian Beltre set up the Rangers' deciding fourth inning without having to swing it. Beltre led off the fourth with a walk and Jurickson Profar followed with a free pass of his own. In the span of three more batters, the Rangers had a 4-0 lead. Beltre ended up 0-for-3, missing out on a chance to tie George Brett for 16th place on the all-time hit list. His next base hit will match Brett's 3,154 total.
The Rangers' victory Monday means they have two more chances to take the current series against the Angels, which would be their first road series victory since a sweep of the Astros July 27-29. The Rangers have lost four consecutive road series.
HE SAID IT
"The strikeout numbers are what they are, but I think the second half has been good to him. He's .265, something like that, in the second half and if he continues on this pace you have to say it's a positive way to finish the season." -- Banister, on Gallo, who is batting .210 with 189 strikeouts while recording an .810 OPS that is among the top 25 in the American League
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
After reaching on a leadoff double in the fourth, Ohtani attempted to steal third, but was originally called out by third-base umpire Nic Lentz. The Angels challenged the call after replay showed that Ohtani's foot touched the bag ahead of Profar's tag, and the ruling was eventually overturned. Ohtani, who was credited with his ninth steal of the season, subsequently scored on Fernandez's RBI single.
Rangers right-hander Adrian Sampson (0-0, 54.00 ERA) will make his second appearance of the season and second career start when he faces the Angels at 9:07 p.m. CT on Tuesday. He previously pitched in 2016 for the Mariners, making just one appearance before undergoing surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon. The Angels will go with Jim Johnson (5-3, 3.81) as part of a bullpen day.
Doug Padilla is a contributor to MLB.com based in Los Angeles.